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Series: Posthumanities
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    InNecromedia,media activist Marcel O'Gorman takes aim at "the collusion of death and technology," drawing on a broad arsenal that ranges from posthumanist philosophy and social psychology to digital art and handmade "objects-to-think-with." Throughout, O'Gorman mixes philosophical speculation with artistic creation, personal memoir, and existential dread. He is not so much arguing against technoculture as documenting a struggle to embrace the technical essence of human being without permitting technology worshippers to have the last word on what it means to be human.

    Inspired in part by the work of cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker, O'Gorman begins by suggesting that technology provides human beings with a cultural hero system built on the denial of death and a false promise of immortality. This theory adds an existential zest to the book, allowing the author not only to devise a creative diagnosis of what Bernard Stiegler has called the malaise of contemporary technoculture but also to contribute a potential therapy-one that requires embracing human finitude, infusing care into the process of technological production, and recognizing the vulnerability of all things, human and nonhuman. With this goal in mind,Necromediaprescribes new research practices in the humanities that involve both written work and the creation of objects-to-think-with that are designed to infiltrate and shape the technoculture that surrounds us.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-4434-0
    Subjects: Philosophy, Art & Art History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
    (pp. 1-6)

    THE FIRST ONE CAME LIKE A LIGHTNING FLASH, only seconds after he dipped the worm into the cold lake at the end of the dock. He nearly dropped the five-foot fiberglass rod, which spasmed and jerked in his hands when the fish first struck. We could see it down there in the shallow water, struggling against the tension of the invisible line. It took only four or five turns of the reel to bring it up. A good-sized perch with six full stripes. It was the largest fish he had caught that week, and he reminded me immediately of our...

    (pp. 7-26)

    In May 2004, I was stopped at the border en route from Windsor, Ontario, to Detroit, Michigan. Alarms sounded and gates at the customs booths went down. Three armed officers rushed to my car and asked me to get out. One of them eyeballed me at close range and asked forebodingly: “Do you have anything you want to tell me before I get into this vehicle?” I had no idea what was taking place. Only later, after encountering the rapid-fire clicks of a handheld isotope detector in the customs office, did I realize that I was radioactive. Not radioactive in...

    (pp. 27-36)

    In the first few days after 9/11, getting across the border between Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit, Michigan, was an excruciating exercise in anxiety. The commute of one mile could take anywhere from two to three hours, much of that time spent inside the tunnel itself, sitting in an idling vehicle, buried in a concrete cave far beneath the Coast Guard patrols on the Detroit River. Commuters at the Ambassador Bridge were spared this claustrophobia, only to be subjected to an agoraphobic traffic jam above the river, which left plenty of time to watch for oncoming jetliners. Getting to the front...

    (pp. 37-60)

    VIVECA ST. JOHN, an 80s porn star, is mildly stoned and having an intimate conversation with her cat Tito as she slips gently into the bathtub. “Ooh, that feels so good. . . . Who’s my lover? Yes, yes. Aren’t you glad I rescued you?” Tito, seemingly oblivious to the sweet nothings of Viveca, makes his way onto the side of the tub and nudges the curling iron that Viveca had plugged in just moments before. As the cat walks away, still oblivious, Viveca St. John dies of electrocution. The scene fades to white, and episode 5 ofSix Feet...

    (pp. 61-70)

    THE FOLLOWING IS A SCRIPT used forDreadmill(2004–2006), a kinetic performance piece delivered on a treadmill hardwired to a notebook computer. In lectures of five to seven kilometers, I walked and ran while discussing the relationship between death, technology, and human embodiment. The speed of the treadmill controlled the speed of the video display, allowing me to enact a form of embodied rhetoric designed to supplement the arguments in my discussion.Dreadmillhas been performed at several galleries and universities across North America, including the Georgia Institute of Technology, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and...

  8. 5 ANGELS IN DIGITAL ARMOR Technoculture, Terror Management, and the Antihero
    (pp. 71-94)

    There’s a “glitch” in the video gameCall of Duty 4: Modern Warfarethat allows players to climb into a tree, thereby achieving a superior vantage point for sniping. The glitch appears on a level called “Downpour.” All a player has to do is find the craggy tree next to the shattered greenhouse, jump at its trunk, and run up into the branches.¹ The sense of power and security in this lofty nest is extremely gratifying, whether or not it leads to any productive sniping. I didn’t learn about the glitch (which is most likely a deliberate design feature) by...

    (pp. 95-108)

    I am thirteen years old, sitting transfixed in front of a television tube on a hot August morning. My older siblings have summer jobs, so I’m all alone today. The windows are open and I can hear the muffled roaring of lawnmowers. This background noise, the sound of labor, gives me a faint pang of guilt, yet it’s not enough to distract me entirely from the object of my attention: an Atari 2600 game calledAdventure.I could be mowing the lawn or riding my BMX bike, roaming the suburban neighborhood of my small Canadian town, looking to turn uneven...

    (pp. 109-126)

    AT THE 2009 CONFERENCE of the Society for Literature, Science and the Arts (SLSA), I delivered a paper designed to investigate the meaning of the shift from the cyborg to the animal in posthumanist philosophy. This shift is evident in the archives of SLSA panel titles, and is registered most palpably in the broad arc that can be traced from Donna Haraway’s championing of the cyborg (1991) to the French-kissing session with her dog that introducesWhen Species Meet(2007). I opened the talk with a reprogramming of this intimate scene, a poem of sorts designed to provoke fellow delegates...

    (pp. 127-136)

    To restore an antique cedar-and-canvas canoe, you must treat the vessel like a living and breathing thing. Canvas is very much like skin, and it will weather, stretch, wrinkle, and crack over time. If the canvas is still intact, then it need not be replaced, and it can be repainted. But preparing an antique canoe canvas for painting requires patience, precision, and a meticulous attention to detail. First of all, it is important to understand that when a canvas is first stretched over the cedar, it isfilledwith a compound consisting mostly of linseed oil and powdered silica. When...

    (pp. 137-164)

    THE CONSPICUOUS PASSAGES on painting, sanding, and carpentry in chapter 8 are designed to exaggerate the claim I wish to make here, which is that humanities scholars mustget their hands dirtyif they are to intervene directly in technocultural production. The discourse on objects with which I will indulge myself in this chapter cuts close to the discourses of object-oriented ontology (OOO) and speculative realism (SR) already discussed in this book. Ian Bogost’s radical unchaining of what a thing is and his generous assessment of what sorts of things might bring a world into being lead him to contemplate...

  13. 10 ROACH LAB
    (pp. 165-170)

    IN A JOURNAL ARTICLE ENTITLED “I Am Not an Animal: Mortality Salience, Disgust, and the Denial of Human Creatureliness,” Goldenberg et al. (2001) describe an experiment based on terror management theory (TMT), in which participants are subjected to various forms of revulsion related to animality. Like all experiments in TMT, this study was inspired by the work of Ernest Becker. This is obvious in the authors’ guiding concept: “acknowledging that we are animals makes us acutely aware that, like other animals, we are material beings vulnerable to death and decay” (Goldenberg et al. 2001, 427). Following Becker’s theory ofcultural...

  14. 11 FROM DUST TO DATA On Existential Terror and Horror Philosophy
    (pp. 171-192)

    IN THE SPRING OF 2012, the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario, offered a double feature in its Theatre of Ideas. Equipped with mandatory earplugs, viewers witnessed back-to-back screenings of Herman Kolgen’sDustand Ryoji Ikeda’sDatamatics v2.0.The Perimeter Institute, which was funded primarily by BlackBerry cofounder Mike Lazaridis, is a residency-based organization that focuses on both formal and phenomenological issues arising from fundamental questions in physics. Besides hosting prestigious academic fellows such as Stephen Hawking, the institute also offers cultural programming. The double bill of Kolgen and Ikeda was an exemplary if not obvious offering in...

    (pp. 193-194)
  16. NOTES
    (pp. 195-202)
    (pp. 203-212)
  18. INDEX
    (pp. 213-231)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 232-235)